Top 10 MONSTER Krampus Facts - The Christmas Goat Demon
You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout. We’re telling you why. Krampus… is coming to town. When it comes to Krampus, a lump of coal for your yearly misdeeds is the least of your worries. For this very merry archive, we’ve got the lowdown on Krampus, Christmas’ very own demonic entity.
It Pre-dates Jesus
In 1958, Folklore volume 69, Issue 1 featured a piece by Maurice Bruce on the origin of Krampus and, in it, Bruce wrote “There seems to be little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches so well preserved.” The Horned God in question is an ancient deity that predates Christianity and Christ, leading many to believe that Krampus is actually older than Jesus Christ and more modern representations of Christmas tradition.
Krampus in Modern Societies
If you were to ask an American child who Krampus was in the mid-90’s, chances are you’d get a strange look and no discernable answer. Today, though, you can pretty much mention the name Krampus anywhere and get a positive response. Though modern Austria struggles with determining whether Krampus is inappropriate for children or not, American pop culture is idolizing the demon with movies and merchandise. The irony in commercializing the Christmas Demon is that there are some that believe Krampus was, at one time, a symbol of the commercialization of Christmas and loss of its original meaning.
December 25th is most popularly known as Christmas Day, but if you look 20 days earlier on the calendar, you land on another important day in Christmas tradition. December 5th is Krampusnacht, a night in parts of Germany and Bavaria dedicated to the celebration of Krampus. During Krampusnacht, men dress up in elaborate costumes representing the Christmas Devil and take part in a parade of creatures that terrify both children and adults alike. In some traditions, it was on this night that Krampus, not St. Nicholas, dispersed coal and ruten bundles to naughty children.
The Fate of Children
Depending on who you speak to or how angry the parent telling the tale of Krampus is, the fate of naughty children can vary. While it’s known that Krampus targets evil and bad children, how he handles these miscreants can change from one telling to the next. Some believe that Krampus uses the washtub strapped to its back to drown evil children while others don’t even factor in a washtub, rather outfitting the demon with a sack used to abduct children to bring to Hell. It’s also said that Krampus may eat the children he abducts.
Krampus Also has a Sexual Side
Krampus may be best known for his vendetta against evil children, but there’s another side to the horned demon that dates back to a time of orgiastic rituals of music, wine and sex. When the Christmas Devil isn’t busy thwacking bad children and stealing away evil ones, some propaganda shows him fraternizing with half-dressed women. Horned deities are often associated with sinful acts so it’s no surprise that Krampus, also a beast of the horned variety, would be stereotyped into being an hypersexual creature.
Krampus was Labeled a Socialist
Krampus was Labeled a Socialist
Leave it to reporters to turn a holiday tradition into something political. On December 23rd, 1934, right after the prohibition on Krampus began in Austria, The New York Times ran an article titled “Krampus Disliked in Fascist Austria; Gienel Black and Red Devil, Symbol of Christmas Fun, Is Frowned Upon.” Despite the inaccuracies in calling the genuinely evil Krampus “Christmas Fun,” the article went on to claim Krampus was a socialist, which is why the Dollfuss were quick to prohibit any traditions surrounding the beast.
The Long Tongue
Many, many depictions and retellings of Krampus have one thing in common – the demon’s long, slithery tongue. Almost like a snake, in some drawings, Krampus’ tongue is seen reaching out towards children. There’s no real reason for the tongue, save to further enhance the creature’s terrifying look towards children, but the muscular organ has been attributed with a 12” length and can be used to lick children prior to doling out their punishment.
Krampus is Santa’s Antithesis
Though Santa Clause is known to scold bad behavior by dishing out lumps of coal, Krampus takes a more active roll in straightening up children. Early legends of the Christmas Devil state that he traveled with a sack or washtub strapped to his back. The otherwise harmless items were actually used to take away children deemed “evil” for one of several punishments. The worst children snatched by Krampus would be taken to Hell for their indiscretions while “bad” children were swatted with a bundle of birch sticks.
The Dollfuss Prohibition
After the 1934 Austrian Civil War, Krampus received some attention by the authoritarian Dollfuss regime. Though Krampus is generally agreed to be Germanic in origin, the Austrian Dollfuss regime, under the Fatherland Front, prohibited any traditions that revolved around the Christmas Devil. Krampus was banned under the regime and did not see a resurfacing until after the end of World War II. There is no recorded reason as to why Krampus was prohibited, but once the ban was lifted, Krampus returned in full force, though the traditions surrounding it would see some changes.
The Christmas Devil
Plenty of things have a good and evil element to it, so why should Christmas be any different? Though you may think Ebenezer Scrooge to be the malevolent holiday entity we’re speaking of, the grumpy old gent has nothing on Krampus. It’s half-goat, half-demonic and all business. Krampus is best known as the Christmas Devil, a grotesquely demonic figure with horns and hooved feet that doesn’t bring good tidings to you and your kin. Krampus is derived from the German Krampen, meaning claw, and is believed to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology.